At first, we saw some garbage, the usual, a few discarded food containers, a coffee cup lid, carelessly dropped or lost by the inattentive visitor. Nothing that could not easily be picked up and collected in a small garbage bag later (and I generally do, because it hurts my eye more to see the garbage than it is an effort to pick it up and dispose of it in a designated spot).
It was a hot Sunday. We decided to go for a swim at a place along a river, where the water cascading over sheet rock is easy to access and not too deep.
Walking on we came across an abandoned campsite, with bottles and aluminum foil in the fire pit. Right next to it was a good sized box full of discarded packing material and bottles – the leftovers of a party. It seemed that someone had just abandoned the site and walked away that very morning. I looked around, but aside from a lone person walking along the shore in some distance (we had parked right next to his car) we were the only ones around. I pointed out to my husband that I was going to bring the box of garbage back and dispose of it.
I anticipated the wind would scatter it soon, and the rain would soak it. Then it would be much harder to clean it up next time around. My heart was full of resentment, and a fun day felt suddenly spoiled. I was at odds with the world and definitely upset with the person(s) who had left their garbage behind. While I realized that emotion, it was hard to shake it.
Regardless, we did our thing and explored the river. Eventually, the lone walker came towards us and I spoke to him. He told me that he was not from around here, and that he was camping out. Oh, I said, is that box up on the bank yours by any chance? He said that it wasn’t, but that he wanted to come back with a garbage bag and clean it up. I responded that I was going to take the box, and that he could come back with the said garbage bag and clean up the rest. He said, bless you, and that was all it took to put my world back on its hinges.
Connecting with just one like-minded person can change our world.
Sustainability- How to live happily while leaving the earth in the same or a better state than before – is what I strive for and educate people about
Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness & Nature Coach
(Photo by Anastasia Nelen, Unsplash, 2023)